Microsoft Gropes in Dark for Successful Mobile Strategy

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-07-02 Print this article Print

5. The enterprise is important, Microsoft

Microsoft doesn't seem to understand what it needs to do in order to be successful in today's mobile marketplace. If this were 2005, Microsoft would be doing just fine. But in 2010, when it still has Windows Mobile on store shelves, and its upcoming smartphone operating system is focused on consumers, it seems clear that Microsoft is lost. Microsoft should remember that its enterprise customers made it rich and powerful. It needs to stick with its roots and target Windows Phone 7 to corporate customers that aren't satisfied with the consumer focus of the iPhone. Plus, Research In Motion, the company that is dominating the corporate market right now, offers phones that are more similar to Windows Mobile devices than to iPhones, making RIM an easy target. But Microsoft doesn't see that. With Windows Phone 7, it's focusing on consumers. And it's setting itself up for disappointment once again.

6. It fails to understand consumers

Furthermore, Microsoft has failed to understand consumers for years now. When Apple released the iPhone in 2007, Microsoft should have been prepared with a competing product in 2008. Three years later, it's still trying to get that competitor to the market. Even the Kin smartphones show how far off it is with its consumer-focused strategies. Microsoft has no idea what consumers are really looking for and it proves that time and again. If it really knew, Windows Phone 7 would be out by now and Microsoft would have a clear vision.

7. Where is the monetization?

Success in the mobile marketplace goes beyond licensing a mobile operating system to vendors. As Google has shown with Android, mobile advertising could be the key to the future for providers of mobile software. That's precisely why Google acquired AdMob and Apple has launched its iAd platform. All the while, Microsoft has done nothing. In fact, the company wasn't even in the running to acquire AdMob when Google finally landed it. That's a real problem. And it once again shows that Microsoft has no idea what it's doing. Advertising's future is in the mobile space. Apple and Google realize that. When will Microsoft finally come around?

8. Social networking and gaming aren't everything

Exactly what Microsoft was thinking when it decided that social networking could be a key component in mobile software is anyone's guess. The point of an app store is to allow customers to download the applications they really want. Microsoft's job, then, is to offer the operating system and the applications people want to use on well-designed smartphones. Yet, Microsoft is throwing everything it can at consumers with Windows Phone 7. There will be a social element; they will have access to Xbox Live; and much more. It's too much, too soon. Smartphone owners want to decide what they will use, not have programs forced upon them. It seems Microsoft has yet to realize that.

9. Its partners seem lost

Where are all the Windows Phone 7 devices that have been promised? Yes, Microsoft has said time and again it has several partners, but few of those partners have even committed to developing a smartphone running Microsoft's mobile platform. Worst of all for Microsoft, the success of Android has caused some companies to start investing heavily in Google's mobile operating system. That could limit their desire to develop Windows Phone 7 devices. Remember, when a company is only offering a mobile operating system, getting that software on as many products as possible is integral to the success of the OS. If Microsoft can't attract vendors, it's dead in the water.

10. New ideas aren't always better ideas

In a show of innovation, Microsoft has produced an entirely new design idea for Windows Phone 7. Rather than use the familiar, gridlike format employed by Android-based devices or Apple's iPhone, Microsoft has instead decided to make its software platform more fluid in nature. The result is a software package that breaks from convention and tries something new. But that could be a major problem. Once again, Microsoft has chosen the wrong spot to make a push. With the past four generations of devices, customers have grown accustomed to a gridlike software design on touch screens. For Microsoft, the company that has yet to break into the touch space, to change things up is a questionable move. As the company trailing the leaders, Microsoft should follow the leaders, not try to trump them with a product that will have difficulty competing. 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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